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Robbery In Canberra

Robbery in Canberra and elsewhere in the ACT is a very serious offence. It is what is known as a composite offence, meaning that it is both a violent offence and a property offence. This article outlines the offences relating to robbery in Canberra and the ACT.

The offence of robbery in Canberra

Robbery in Canberra and the ACT is theft from a person who uses or threatened to use force at or immediately before or after the theft. The offence is contained in Section 309 of the Criminal Code 2002. The maximum penalty is set at a fine of 1400 penalty units and/or 14 years imprisonment.

What the police must prove

In order for an accused to be found guilty of robbery, it must be proven that:

  • they committed theft; and
  • immediately before or immediately after the theft, they used force on someone else or threatened to use force on someone else;

with intent to commit theft, or to escape from the scene.

Possible defences for robbery in Canberra

A person charged with robbery in Canberra or the ACT can validly defend the charge by arguing:

  • that they did not intend to steal the property;
  • that they did not threaten to use force or use force on the person;
  • they did not actually take or steal anything from the person (although this may still give rise to a charge of attempted robbery);
  • the item belonged to them and they had a claim of right over it (although this may still give rose to a charge of assault).


Robbery in Canberra and the ACT can be dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court or ACT Supreme Court. If the value of the property allegedly involved is not more than $30,000, it is possible for the matter to remain in the summary jurisdiction (Magistrates Court or Children’s Court).

In the summary jurisdiction, the matter will be dealt with by a magistrate and the maximum penalty that can be handed down for a single offence is two years imprisonment.

If a robbery matter is to be dealt with on indictment in the Supreme Court, it must first go through a committal proceeding in the Magistrates Court or Children’s Court. At a committal proceeding, the court reviews the evidence against the accused and decides whether the case against them is sufficient for the matter to proceed to a higher court. If the evidence is sufficient, the matter will be committed to the Supreme Court. If it is insufficient, the matter will be dismissed.  

Aggravated robbery in Canberra 

Aggravated robbery in Canberra and the ACT is governed by section 310 of the Code, where the maximum penalty is a fine of 2500 penalty units and/or 25 years imprisonment. A robbery is aggravated if it is committed and one or more of the following circumstances exists:

  • the accused is in the company of one or more other people;
  • the accused uses an offensive weapon.

The Code defines an offensive weapon as:

  • anything made or adapted for use for causing injury to or incapacitating a person;
  • anything that a person has in their possession with the intention of using, or threatening to use, to cause injury to or incapacitate someone else;
  • a firearm, or anything that could be taken to be a firearm;
  • a knife, or anything that could be taken to be a knife;
  • an explosive, or anything that could be taken in the circumstances to be or contain an explosive. 


Aggravated robbery is a strictly indictable offence as the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 25 years. This means it will be finalised in the Supreme Court after going though committal proceedings in the summary jurisdiction.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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